Chapter 3: California Here We Come/Redwood Trees and Underfunded State Parks

by William Bossen Photography

Wednesday, September 29th

Will and I reach California and sadly said goodbye to Oregon.  We hit the Redwood Highway and were greeted by the giant Redwoods and decided to pull in to Mill Creek Campground.  The ranger was wearing a tiara and informed us that it was her last day working and the last day the campground would be open for the season.  We later discovered that to be the truth for the rest of the State Parks in California.  I guess years of giant deficits in the California budget have finally caught up with the State, sad.  We happily pulled down deep into the Redwoods and spent the night under a canopy of trees, enjoying the serenity and comfort those old giants offer the wayward passenger.

Thursday, September 30th

The next day we drove through Humboldt County and kept seeing hitchhikers and hippies along the highway.  We both also swore we smelled something “strange” in the air as we would pass certain auspicious locations?  The Redwood Trees stretched on and on until we finally met Highway 1, a narrow curving road that wraps around the Pacific Ocean in California.  The coast was slogged in with a thick marine layer and Mendocino County’s only State Park with camping was already closed, which was actually a blessing in surprise.  Instead we drove inland on a small road that leads to a magical place called Orr Hot Springs.

Orr Hot Springs is nestled deep in a valley off of a long winding road that cuts dues east from Highway 1 at Mendocino towards Ukiah.  Orr has a long history that dates back to 1878 and has a rustic beauty that reflects its age.  The springs are clean and the property well maintained.  The perfect place to soak, steam, and gaze at the stars from a private tub perched high on an observation deck.  We soaked late into the night and rose before sunrise to soak and steam some more.  The waters are soothing and deeply cleansing.  Some even believe the waters at Orr Hot Springs have medicinal healing powers?

Friday, October 1st

Our little camp site was private, clean, and cozy.  That morning we made a fabulous breakfast in the well equipped communal kitchen where strangers befriend each other over coffee and swap hot spring and hiking stories.  The living room and dining room with table cloths on the tables, a piano, and two resident cats were an equally charming place to spend the late morning writing and reflecting on our the beauty of the area.  We packed up camp and towed our community cart back to the car from our camp site.  The parking lot is well removed from the spring area, which contributes to the feeling of seclusion and peace one can find at Orr Hot Springs; a nice place to check out and get in touch with the mind, body, and spirit.  *Note, the hot springs are nude.

After packing the car, we drove onward via Highway 101 towards San Francisco passing vineyards and stopping for lunch in Hopland for a delicious, local, and organic Buffalo burger and salad of Mendocino Greens.  We entered San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge on a sparkling sunny afternoon filled with joy and excitement for the next phase of our trip, backpacking in Yosemite!

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